With the America East (AE) Tournament now only one series away, the Binghamton baseball team was lucky to remain in second place in the conference standings after being swept by Albany this past weekend. The Bearcats (21-21, 10-8 AE) scored only one run off of six hits over the two-game series against Albany’s strong pitching performance. They dropped the first game, 3-1 and the second, 4-0, with the third game being canceled due to rain.

“We picked a bad day to play bad baseball,” said BU head coach Tim Sinicki.

Albany senior right-handed pitcher Dominic Savino pitched a complete game in the first game of the doubleheader, allowing just one run and four hits, while redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher John Clayton pitched a scoreless game through 5.2 innings in the second matchup. Albany (24-21, 11-9 AE) advanced its winning streak to five, while Binghamton had captured six straight conference games before dropping this series. According to Sinicki, the Great Danes’ dominant pitching was the primary problem for BU in the doubleheader.

“Sometimes you gotta tip your hat to the guy that’s standing 60 feet, 6 inches from you, and you congratulate him on doing a great job,” Sinicki said.

Sinicki, however, did not seem overly worried over some of the fielding mistakes, which stung the Bearcats throughout the doubleheader. The Great Danes slapped several bloop hits which fell into the outfield between the glaring sunlight and unfortunate, shallow landing spots.

“Those things happen,” Sinicki said. “Sometimes you make good pitches and the ball finds a way to hit the turf.”

Not everything went wrong for the Bearcats, though. Like Albany, their pitching was strong throughout the two-game series, consistently putting the Bearcats in a position to win.

“It’s pretty simple,” Sinicki said. “We ask our starting pitchers to go out there and keep us in the game and give us a chance to win and I thought that both [junior pitcher] Ben [Anderson] and [senior pitcher] Nick [Gallagher] did that yesterday as did [senior pitcher Robert] Brown coming out of the bullpen in game one.”

Gallagher allowed three runs over six innings in the first game, with Brown coming in to pitch three scoreless innings after that. Anderson picked up his third loss of the season, surrendering four runs on six hits through six frames. The only run Binghamton scored came from junior infielder Justin Drpich, who scored off an RBI single in the first game of the series.

Binghamton had already clinched an AE playoff berth after its sweep of UMBC in its last conference series. However, these late-season conference games still matter as rankings for the playoffs are far from certain. BU now can no longer wrestle first place away from Stony Brook, and the No. 2 and No. 6 seeds are within two games of each other. The standings look fragile heading into the final games of the season.

“They’re all big series in conference play,” Sinicki said. “The series in the beginning of the year is no different than the series at the end of the year. It’s a tight race right now really between two and six, so a lot of things can happen with wins and losses. We’re gonna [treat] it like we treat every series in conference play. They’re important games.”

Binghamton travels to Maine next weekend in its final regular season games of the season as it looks to secure a top seed in the AE Tournament, which will be hosted at the Bearcats Sports Complex. Sinicki seems confident that his team is ready for the next series and the playoffs ahead.

“We’re really a very competitive team who has the chance to beat anybody in our conference if we’re getting timely hitting, if we’re getting good effort on the mound and if we’re defending well,” Sinicki said. “Statistically speaking, we’ve done all three of those things throughout the course of the year, which is why we’re sitting at second place right now. But we’ve got to do it when it counts and it’s gonna count this weekend at Maine.”

First pitch in game one of the series against the Black Bears is set for noon on Friday, May 17 from Mahaney Diamond in Orono, Maine.